September 5, 2018 / 5:30 PM / 9 months ago

'Don't touch me,' U.S. Senator Rubio tells conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Don’t mess with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.

The Republican senator was talking to reporters on Wednesday in a Senate hallway about social media companies’ role in elections and the spreading and blocking of misinformation, while a man spoke over him and reporters.

The man was conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has fallen foul of several social media companies for violating their community standards, although Rubio said he did not know who he was.

In a video posted online by a reporter, Jones at one point placed his hand on Rubio’s shoulder.

“Don’t touch me again, man. I’m asking you not to touch me again,” Rubio said.

After Jones protested, Rubio said, “I don’t want to be touched. I don’t know you. I don’t know who you are.”

Jones countered, “Oh, you want me to get arrested?”

Rubio replied, “You’re not going to get arrested, man. You’re not going to get arrested. I’ll take care of you myself.”

Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, answered another question from reporters before an aide announced he needed to leave.

Radio host Alex Jones of Infowars talks to the news media as he arrives to listen to the testimony of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations on social media platforms on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Jones, whose false theories include saying the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax, was on Capitol Hill to watch an intelligence panel hearing on social media and politics.

While he was talking over Rubio earlier, Jones charged Democrats with “purging” conservative voices, and Republicans with acting as though this was not happening.

Major technology companies have removed podcasts and channels from Jones, who founded the website Infowars, saying he broke community standards, and Twitter banned accounts from him and Infowars for seven days last month because of a tweet that violated Twitter’s rules against abusive behavior.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Frances Kerry

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